Part of the secret to success for a global business consultant is to be organized. Different countries, multiple time zones, and a myriad of clients and cultures mean it can be pretty easy to get mixed up and miss important appointments. And, admittedly, I did so once in a while at the beginning of my career. But I have learned some of the things highly organized people don’t do, and, after some practice and some help, I have become a pro at balancing time zones and diverse cultures and climates. It’s been a game changer for me personally and professionally. It feels good to be organized and know that wherever I am in the world, things will run smoothly.
So, in the spirit of spring-cleaning, I’m doing a two-part post on the secrets of getting your life organized.
First, I want to share five things you’ll never see highly organized people do:
1. Highly organized people don’t wear pajamas all day.
There’s a trend among organized people. They start every morning the same way–no matter if they’re going to work or staying home. They get up, eat a good breakfast, shower, and get dressed. The act of getting ready for the day–no matter where it might take you–can change your perspective and help you be more productive. It’s the simple knowledge that you’re prepared for anything–inside or outside the house.
2. Highly organized people don’t rely on their memories.
Sure, we live in an age where pen and paper are becoming perceived as antiquated, but writing is a great way to remember things. Write out checklists, and savor the triumphant feeling you have when you get to mark things off. For important dates and errands, feel free to use your smartphone. But no matter what, write (or type) a to-do list somewhere. It does no good floating around in your head.
3. Highly organized people don’t procrastinate.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but procrastination only adds to stress–and disorganization. The longer you wait to do something, the harder it will be to get the task done (plus, you’ll likely do a worse job because of the pressure and time constraints). Getting things done as soon as you can nixes the feeling of having something hanging over your head. Try it! It can be liberating!
4. Highly organized people aren’t perfectionists.
Organized people have the image of being perfectionists, but the truth is, they aren’t. It’s just the illusion they’ve created because they have the space and time to do what’s essential well. If you feel like you must do everything perfectly, you’re not going to get anything done. So try to do the best you can for the most important stuff, and be OK with “good enough” for the others–or ask for help. This will help you combat procrastination and free up your time.
5. Highly organized people don’t take on too much.
One of the perks of being really organized is freedom from being stressed and overwhelmed. And freedom from being stressed and overwhelmed demands that you not have too much on your plate. Really organized people know how to delegate. If you find that your plate is overflowing, prioritize and consider dropping or delegating the less important tasks. It’s OK to cancel plans, so you have time to think. Or even just to breathe.
Start with these five actions, and you’re already on your way to getting yourself organized. In my next post, I’ll share the top five secrets of the highly organized.
A version of this post was first published on Inc.